We’re just over a week into pre-season and preparations for the new campaign are well underway at the Oakwell Training Ground.
One player who has enjoyed acclimatising to his new, yet familiar, surroundings is Devante Cole, who is back at Barnsley seven years on from a loan spell.
“It’s been great; the lads have really helped me settle in well,” asserted the forward. “It’s a really good group of boys and that always helps. It’s been a case of getting to grips with everything new and new ways to play.
“From minute one, everyone was making sure I knew where things were and helping me on the ways to press from last year. Everything has been really good from them and they’ve welcomed me into the squad well – it’s been a week and a bit now and I’m starting to feel settled.”
As well as adapting to and gelling with his teammates, Cole is also adjusting to a different tactical approach implemented by new Reds Head Coach, Markus Schopp.
The Austrian joined Barnsley from TSV Hartberg at the end of June and our striker says there are early indications in training of what to expect in the coming weeks and months.
“He’s come in and I think he’s tried to keep a lot the same as last year from what I can tell with what the boys are saying,” continued the 26-year-old. “In the next few weeks, I think we’ll see what new things he wants to bring.”
Our first examination ahead of the new campaign will be at the Crown Oil Arena against Rochdale on 14 July.
The Sky Bet League Two side will host the Reds in a behind closed doors friendly as we aim to gain valuable match sharpness before we get underway at the start of August.
“Preparations are going well for that,” insisted Cole. “I think we’ll see more and more preparation for the games towards the end of this week and the start of next week because we’ve got a lot of games coming up in the next few weeks and we’re looking forward to that.”
We will begin our Championship season in a month’s time with a trip to South Wales to face Cardiff City, looking to build on last term’s magnificent run to the play-offs as we recorded a fifth place finish.
There is plenty of anticipation in the camp as competitive football looms ever closer, but the main source of excitement is the return of fans to stadia following a lengthy absence.
“Everyone is looking forward to that first game of the season and getting back – especially with the news that fans are coming back in,” said Cole. “So, I think wherever you go in the first few weeks, it’s definitely going to be a full house and everyone is excited for that.
“It became normal to play without fans so, when we get fans back in, I think everyone will notice a difference because we became accustomed to playing without them.”